Since Andrew Friedman was hired by the Los Angeles Dodgers as president of baseball operations in October 2014, the front office has worked tirelessly to replenish the club’s Minor League cupboard that was depleted under previous owner Frank McCourt.
With headliners Corey Seager and Julio Urias, both of whom are considered top-10 prospects in all of baseball, the Dodgers boast one of the best farm systems. While Seager and Urias draw plenty of attention, Los Angeles also has the likes of Cody Bellinger and Jose De Leon in their organization.
De Leon was recently ranked the fifth-best right-handed pitching prospect in the Minors. Additionally, he’s among the players who received a 20 non-roster invite to big league camp with the Dodgers for Spring Training.
The group includes Chris Anderson, Bellinger and Urias, among others. In an interview with Dodger Talk host David Vassegh of AM 570, De Leon discussed the close relationship he shares with Jharel Cotton and Urias:
“We’re brothers, we live together in Tulsa. Julio is our little brother. It’s amazing, we get along really well, pull for each other and push each other hard. It’s really helpful.”
De Leon added he and Cotton often set competitive goals against one another during their respective starts:
“Jharel and I always try to mess around and say, ‘Let’s see who can strike more people out in the next outing.’ Just some small goals you set for yourself in every outing and you try achieve them. We push each other and at the end of the day, we try to get the best out of each other. That’s the kind of relationship we have.”
De Leon began last season with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, where he went 4-1 with a 2.15 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and averaged 13.9 strikeouts per nine innings over seven starts (37.2 innings). The 23 year old then joined Double-A Tulsa, making his debut on May 22.
In 16 starts with the Drillers, he was 2-6 with a 4.11 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. With this being the first time De Leon will be part of Major League camp, he’s hoping to learn from Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.